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Cambridge Rugby Shield


Dec 16

Blaydon Preview

This Saturday we head to Blaydon.

Blaydon arrived in National 1 in 2007 and have remained there since So we played them for 5 seasons, which means I have used up most of what I know about the town in previous issues. On the South bank of the Tyne, traditionally in the County Durham but now in Tyneside - it is a suburb of Newcastle/Gateshead historically home to the race course made famous in Geordie Ridley's song - but now best known for the Metro Centre.

As a convenient place to ford the Tyne it featured in the wars between England and Scotland. In 1640 King Charles' army was defeated here by the Scottish Covenanters - which led to him recalling Parliament for the first time in 13 yeas to raise necessary funds. His ongoing disputes with Parliament led to the Civil War. Eight years later Cromwell camped here on the way to the battle of Dunbar. It is also home to coal mines, the fires set by King Charles army set a seam on fire which burned for several years. This led to commercial mining and to coking works then to power stations - though they now lie under the Metro centre.

The Swalwell Hoppings were as big an entertainment as the races. Swalwell is the next village to Blaydon and home to the Rugby Club. Hoppings are of course dances - but this seems to have been much more. Traditionally held on Whit Monday, in the 18th Century the entertainment included `Dancing for Ribands, grinning for tobacco, women running for smocks, foot races for men, ass races and a man who would eat a live cockerel, feathers entrails and all.' And of course plentiful food and ale. In later years the Hoppings attracted fairground rides The Hoppings died out in the 1960s but have been revived in recent years in much reduced form at the Rugby Club.

Which is of course the propose of our trip.

This season Blaydon are not doing that well. They have two wins (Fylde and Hull Ionians) and a draw with Macclesfield. They sit bottom of the table level on points with Macclesfield and a point behind Hull Ionions. However, they did get a losing bonus point at Coventry - so they cannot be taken for granted. It is one of the longest journeys of the season, so Cambridge will have to get off the coach and switch on immediately if there is not to be an upset.

Although it is a long trip it is a simple journey, head up the A1 past the Angel of the North, round the Newcastle ring road and turn left just past the Metro Centre. Alternatively you could take the train. Though I recall that when the Blood and Sand team did that one year they somehow 'missed' the last train home - and thus were forced to spend an evening out in the Bigg Market which I am told was a great hardship for the lads. If you do make a weekend of it, you can be assured that no matter how cold the weather, the welcome will be warm.

The weather forecast suggests that the frosts have passed and it should remain above freezing from now until Saturday. Conditions on the day are expected to be cold but dry with little wind - so good for running rugby. 

Nov 16

Changing Room Project

Dear Members, Friends and Supporters,

You may be aware that the club has a planning application approved for the construction of much needed changing room facilities.

We currently have a number of portacabins in a delapidated condition and because of this and an expired temporary planning consent, they need to be removed at the end of this season. These units are where our Mini & Youth children currently have to change which, due to the leaking roofs, broken windows and holes in the floor, is very unsatisfactory.

In addition if we have more than one Senior game on a Saturday there can be as many as 6 teams (120 players) sharing the same facilities which comprises a shower block in need of complete repair & refurbishment.

If we are to make our facility fit for purpose we need to raise £500,000 to carry out the extension & improvements.

A very large sum but one we have already made huge strides towards raising through the following...

  • The RFU have confirmed grants and loans of £170,000
  • The land fill tax fund have indicated that we can apply for up to £50,000 and our current application for funds is under consideration
  • The City Council have approved £200,000 s106 funds subject to a condition that the club can raise the balance of the funds required
  • We have also had discussions with other possible sources of third party grants and will make applications in line with their award cycles

With this improvement, at long last we can commit to be a leading club in girls and womens rugby and increase our Colts and Senior mens teams to ensure all players have a team to play in and there is a pathway from mini to senior rugby. This also gives us an opportunity to expand its use to other clubs and societies in line with the requirements of third party funding.

Without the investment in improved facilities none of this can take place and we will not retain our position as the leading club in East Anglia for all age groups & genders. To achieve our target we need to raise £80,000 and ask that you consider making a donation to ensure we deliver the facility we need. Your support will be recognised and remembered on a proposed supporters board.

Please make a donation to our “Changing Room Fund” via the Cambridge Rugby Union Football Club Community Account. Your money will be held in this account and if for any reason the project does not go ahead your money will be refunded.

Account details are: CRUFC Community, Acc No: 83277232 Sort: 20-17-35

Thank you for your kind support.

Steve Bowller

Nov 16

Hull Ionians Preview

Rugby came to Hull in 1865 with the formation of Hull F.C. who adopted a striped cherry and white shirt. The club contained many old Rugbians but matches were initially played under a variety of rules, generally those of the host club. It was only in 1870 they formally adopted Rugby School Rules for all matches.

Their first international was one I. Hutchinson who played for England at the Oval in the Ireland's first international. In 1988 they took on the New Zealand natives 11 days after Moseley and Hull won 1-0. In 1884 they reached the final of the Yorkshire Cup - but were beaten by Bradford - now Bradford Park Avenue AFC.

In 1895 Hull and local rivals Kingston Rivals joined the breakaway Northern Union. A group of players wanted to continue with rucks and mauls rather than the play the ball and by 1901 Hull and East Riding club was born.

Meanwhile across town in 1887 the Rev John Hymers left a substantial sum to found a boys school - Hymer's College. This begat an Old Hymerians Rugby Club.  In 1926 a group broke away to form Ionians Rugby Club.

The Ionians are of course one of the four tribes of ancient Greece. Ion was the son of Creusa and Apollo. Ion conquered Thrace and was made king of Athens. The club liked their warlike image. That Ionians were later driven out by the Dorians was overlooked. They settled in modern Turkey founding cites such as Ephesus. One of the most famous Ionians was the philosopher Thales - after whom the French armaments and security company is named. Thales, the company, of course sponsor our prop David Coutts.

Hull and ER merged with Ionians moving to the Ionians ground in Brantingham adopting the new name Hull Ionions and a quartered shirt with the colours of both clubs. Hull and ER's Red and White with Ionians Blue and Green.

Meanwhile the third XV not wanting to move stayed on at the old H&ER ground at the Circle, playing as Hull and ER (1989). They in turn merged with Old Hymerians to form the current Hull RUFC. I was from that club that Jim Wigglesworth came to join the Blood and Sand.

Until 2015 both Hull RUFC and Hull Ionians were in National 2 North, ensuring a fierce local rivalry. However tha season they had distinctly different fortunes, Ionians gaining promotion to National 1 and Hull being relegated to National 3 North.

Hull Ionians are not having a good season. They are in the relegation zone with only 17 points. They have only beaten Darlington, Macclesfield and Esher. However, they pushed Blackheath and Moseley hard, losing both games by 2 points. So Cambridge cannot risk complaceny.
We need to find the steel we showed against Fylde. The support of the 16th man will be vital. So come join the Volac Park roar. 

Nov 16

AGM 29th Nov, 19.30

Date Tuesday 29th November, 2016

Time 19:30 (Bar open 19:00)

Annual General Meeting Cambridge Rugby Club

Apologies: Please send apologies to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

1. Minutes Minutes of the meeting held on 14th December 2015

2. Report of the Committee on the affairs of the Club

3. Financial Statement for the preceding financial year

4. Election of Officers

  • (a) President - Stephen Bowller (nominated by the committee)
  • (b) Secretary - Gary Barr (nominated by the committee)
  • (c) Treasurer - Vacant

5. Election of Members of the Committee The following have been proposed by the committee in accordance with rules 8.3.1 and 8.4.1

  • Rob Dean, Adrian Fraser, Ross Jenyon, Gordon Newbound, JJ Jeffrey, Jonathan Woods, Alan Banks, Ross Stewart, John Creighton, Shaun Grady, Deborah Barr

6. Appointment of Auditors for 2016-17

  • Messrs Price Bailey

7. Any other business

Nov 16

Coventry Away Preview

This Saturday Cambridge head to Coventry, home of Lady Godiva, cathedrals, bicycles and cars.

Lady Godiva and her husband Earl Leofric are well attested in history. They re founded the Abbey after it had been destroyed by King Cantute's army and the town grew up around it. The ride is unfortunately only a legend He is presumed to be buried in the abbey, while she was buried in Evesham. - Fifty years later the Bishop of Chester moved to Coventry and the Saxon St Mary's was rebuilt as a Cathedral - but before it was finished the see moved Lichfield. The abbey was dissolved by Henry when the town was unable to pay for it the King order it to be destroyed. In the nineteenth century Coventry was switch to being in Worcester Diocese. Then in 1918, in response to the growth of population, a new Bishopric was created and the parish church of St Michael's became the new cathedral. This was destroyed by the German blitz and the modern Basil Spence Cathedral built to replace it.

In the 1880s Rover and Humber were early manufactures of safety bicycles - Rover may have come up with the term, Humber introducing the diamond frame. Of course both firms went on to build motorbikes and cars, which was to be the city's main industry. They were joined by Swift, British Daimler, Climax, Triumph, Alvis and Swallow - who moved from Blackpool - merged with Sterling but dropped the SS marque and adopted the Jaguar brand. Rover, Triumph, Alvis and Jaguar were later subsumed into British Leyland - while Humber was bought by Rootes, Chrysler and finally Peugeot before closing. Indeed the only cars still made in Coventry are London Taxis.

Coventry Rugby Club dates to 1874. They quickly became one of the major forces in Midlands Rugby, providing a string of internationals. The Boxing Day fixture against Moseley was a key point of the season. However, in recent years they have been overshadowed by the East Midlands sides and faced financial struggles.

When Leagues were introduced in 1987 Coventry were placed in Level 1 but were relegated the first season. They remained at level 2 until 1993 when they were relegated. They were promoted back to level 2 as Champions the following season. In 1997 they reached the promotion play-offs. But this was a high water mark. They survived at level 2 until 2010 when they finally dropped to level three and while competitive have not managed to gain promotion.

They started this season under a new coach, a young chap called Rowland Winter. Apparently he had successfully led a National Two side to promotion, so they thought he might be the man to lead Coventry back to the Championship. He has assembled a squad including James Stokes, Corey Hircock, Brett Daynes, Tom Jubb, Tom Wheatcroft, Rob Conquest, Sam Harry and Brendan Burke. Martin Wolfenden and Steve Hipwell also turned out for their second XV, the Nighthawks, against Cambridge University. However, Stokes suffered an ankle injury in the defeat to Ampthill, so he may not feature.

Cambridge have played Coventry six times in the league, we won the last four but lost the last two. This season Coventry have won 6 matches and lost five, sitting in sixth place on 30 points, so Cambridge could pull level with them on points.

If Cambridge take their attacking flair and the extra defence strength they found last week, they should be able to match Coventry. We should at least know what to expect and both sides will want to attack.

It is a relatively short drive to the Butts Park Arena. It is a great opportunity to support the boys and meet up with familiar faces. In the true spirit of rugby we can all be Friends after the match - but for the 80 minutes nothing is more important than making them regret leaving.

So come along and cheer on the Blood and Sand.

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